Hometown: Roanoke, VA
High School: Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ
Study Abroad? (have you, or are you planning on it, where/when?): I’d actually like to take a semester off, either in France or somewhere in Scandinavia or Northern Europe.
Why did you choose Middlebury?
Middlebury has, to me, the best mix of laid-back fun and serious intellectualism. The balance is perfect between intense studying and rock climbing, Frisbee, or however else you choose to blow off steam. I got that vibe immediately upon arriving at campus and it’s been reaffirmed over and over in my time here.
Why/How did you choose your major?
I knew I wanted to study literature coming into Middlebury, but I did everything I could to convince myself otherwise. I tried Economics, Poli Sci, Sociology, and GSFS hoping to find anything that wasn’t the much-maligned “English Major.” After a couple semesters, though, I realized that that was the true luxury I had been given by attending a liberal arts school: no matter what I want to do with my career, I can study whatever I want for its own sake and feel confident that my education is preparing me for the world beyond.
Lit Studies is a very self-selecting program at Middlebury, and I chose it because it gives students ultimate autonomy in studying literature. Courses taught in any department are fair game, from English and American Lit to Classics, to Philosophy, to any foreign language. The major culminates in a lot of senior work, much of which is governed by an external, canonical reading list, including a scholarly essay, an independent reading project, and a comprehensive oral exam. It’s a little daunting, but in addition to working my way through the more established works of the cannon I get to spend time with my true passions, postmodern American literature and contemporary philosophy.
What was your biggest challenge transitioning into the college atmosphere?
One challenge for me was forcing myself, even after I found a group of friends, to keep trying to meet new people. It’s easy to play it safe and stick with the first people with whom you really connect, but you have to keep branching out! The best way I’ve found to do that is to join clubs and student orgs.
What is your fondest memory of Middlebury thus far?
Once of my fondest memories was the night I was accepted into the Mamajamas a cappella group. I was a new Feb and I’d just emerged from orientation. To me, it felt like the first real sign that I was going to be able to fit in and function in the “real” Middlebury world. The friendship and musical knowledge I’ve gained through the Mamajamas has been a defining part of my experience here.
What is your favorite class you’ve taken here?
American Literature Since 1945 with Professor Brett Millier was a mind-blowing course that really solidified my interest in contemporary American fiction. Professor Millier is the head of the English and American Literature department and truly brilliant; her courses have such intentional architecture that the works you read seem to have inevitable order. Every book works to improve your understanding of the course’s overall concept and thesis. Add in a reading list riddled with names like Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Heller, Don DeLillo, Saul Bellow, and David Foster Wallace, and you’ve got a winner.
What do you do in your spare time?
I play drums in a couple student bands and write singer-songwritery guitar songs on my own.
Which Harry Potter character would you be and why?
My last name’s Rehmus, so Remus Lupin has to be my choice. Plus he’s a werewolf.
You’re taking a cross country road trip: which Middlebury professor do you bring along and why?
Oh man. I’ve already talked about Professor Millier, so I’ll say Professor Nick Muller in the Econ and Environmental Studies departments. He’s a young environmental economist who’s done major research on quantifying the effects of air pollution, he looks like he just walked out of a J Crew catalogue, and he used to play in a rock band. Enough said.
One piece of advice you would give prospective students in the admissions process?
It’s going to feel like colleges are accepting or rejecting you, when really they’re mostly accepting or rejecting an application that only approximates you. Even at a place like Middlebury where your application is going to be individually poured-over and debated, it’s often really difficult to know whether your best qualities have been accurately conveyed or why exactly decisions are made. It sounds clichéd, but it’s the truth: you can’t allow yourself to take it personally. The best you can do is work as hard as you can, make sure you’re involved in ways that honestly reflect your interests, and do your research to make sure the colleges you apply to are great fits for your personality and desired educational experience. After that, it’s just a matter of crossing fingers!